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    RUSSIAN BANKER RELEASED FROM CUSTODY IN USA

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    WASHINGTON, January 29, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Vasily Voropayev) - The court of Washington's suburb of Alexandria (Virginia) ruled on Wednesday to release former Russian banker Alexander Konanykhin from custody.

    The RIA Novosti correspondent reports that at Wednesday hearings, judge T. Ellis said that Konanykhin did not violate the agreement with the US authorities which allowed him to live in the United States.

    At the same time, the judge believes, the American government itself has violated this agreement by arresting Konanykhin.

    The judge pointed out that both sides did not quite understand the provisions of this agreement. He proposed that Konanykhin's lawyers and American law enforcers should urgently work over the agreement to make it clearer.

    The judge scheduled the final hearings for February 5 to approve the agreement on the terms and conditions of Konanykhin's presence in the USA.

    According to the judge, the final agreement will be in force until Konanykhin receives a status of a political refugee or all the possibilities of appealing are exhausted.

    Earlier, Konanykhin was deprived of the status of a political refugee in the USA, but his lawyers appealed against this decision.

    The lawyer of the former Russian banker said that Alexander Konanykhin and his wife Yelena Gracheva intended to stay in the USA and to seek the status of political refugees. In the opinion of the lawyer, this procedure may take some six months or even more.

    In November 2003, the American court deprived Alexander Konanykhin of the status of a political refugee and in December 2003 he was arrested at the border with Canada.

    As RIA Novosti was told in the Interior Ministry of the Russian Federation, in Russia Konanykhin is charged with a theft of 8 million dollars in 1991 - 1992 from the AKB All-Russia Exchange Bank.

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